Last Thursday, November 29, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro made a series of announcements in the framework of his Economic Recovery Plan. Without being an economist or expert in the field, but simply a Venezuelan, I want to leave my opinion about it.
My purpose in sitting down to write this article is to try to explain our situation as Venezuelans to people who are not from this country. Unlike the vast majorities of Venezuelan writers and bloggers that one usually finds, I am not against the national government, nor am I going to pose a melodrama of how Venezuela “is being devastated by Castro-communism”, and how it is urgently needed a “military intervention” and a “change of government”.
You will not find here an article that defends the Venezuelan government at all costs nor will it repeat its stands uncritically. The Venezuelan government has made mistakes, in some cases very serious ones. But still I think we have to support it, pointing out those mistakes and problems that it has in order to correct them.
I believe that the Venezuelan government is divided between those officials who are fighting to rescue Venezuela from the crisis in which it is living and to lead the country to the end of poverty and inequality (what many call “Chávez’s legacy”), and other officials who only seek personal enrichment and stealing money from the State for their own personal purposes, although for this they disguise themselves as “chavistas”. Discerning which officers are on one side and which are on the other is a very sensitive and personal issue, and the fight for power is even more audacious than any season of Game of Thrones. Only with time will the truth be known. In the midst of this, a series of powerful countries anxiously await the outcome of the results to see if they manage to seize the country and its resources. Not to mention the opposition and the Venezuelan political fauna, so diverse and scattered that by itself it would cover a complete book.
This is a manifesto that tries to summarize the reason for my stand. It’s something, to some extent personal, that I need to write to contextualize and remind myself why I’m here, and why I’m going to stay here.
Venezuela is a country full of natural resources, which has a privileged geopolitical situation that makes it a nation much desired by the great super-powers.
Since 1999 a left government has been installed in the country, trying to make its own decisions regardless of the wishes of these superpowers, which has brought consequences:
A coup d’état in April 2002
An oil strike of more than 60 days in December of that year
A series of violent protests of different kinds that have occurred in 2004, 2007 and later years
Venezuela, for being an oil country, has developed for decades a business class very different from what is usually seen in countries like Argentina, Brazil or Uruguay; While there tend to see entrepreneurs in the secondary sector of the economy (able to transform different raw materials into finished products), Venezuela has been characterized by having a business sector of the tertiary sector whose main interest is the import of goods for resale to the population , particularly to the middle classes, which has had good income as a result of oil revenues.
On the other hand, it is important to remember that in 2012 the then President Hugo Chavez fell terminally ill to die in March 2013. This caused a kind of agreement in a large part of the opposition and the Venezuelan business community, convinced that it was time to take out once and for all the government of Nicolás Maduro, Chávez’s successor, winner during the elections in April 2013. From there we have live very violent protests (locally called “guarimbas”) in 2014 and 2017, which have left dozens dead , both on the opposition side (the most visible in the media) as Chavistas and people who were not on either side.
In 2014, 2015 and 2016 there is a serious oil crisis, when the OPEC countries decide not to cut production and the price of oil drops from $ 60 a barrel to around $ 20 a barrel by the beginning of 2016.
This causes a strong crisis in Venezuela, a country very dependent on oil revenues, which then shoots up even more when it is confirmed in 2017 that Pdvsa, the Venezuelan state oil industry, is producing much less oil than it should for reasons that are still being argue.
Thus, although oil prices worldwide recover in 2017, Venezuela is more sinking into the crisis.
What the Venezuelan government has told us so far is that Rafael Ramírez, who at the time was the right-hand man of Hugo Chávez and one of his closest figures, and who was president of PDVSA between November 2004 and September 2014 (almost 10 years in a position, in a government that has been characterized rather because its officials last a few months in one position before being rotated to another), it seems that all the time He was betraying Chavez, and the main managers of the industry, apparently, were working to dismantle it or promote their own businesses.
Diego Salazar Carreño, Rafael Ramírez’s cousin, apparently used his contacts to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from commissions in PDVSA contracts with foreign contractors, an issue exposed by the international press in the scandals of the Banca Privada d’Andorra . Other people like Nervis Villalobos, ex-Vice Minister of Energy currently detained in Spain, and José Enrique Luongo, also detained in Venezuela with Diego Salazar, were linked to him. The scandal also involved Eulogio Del Pino and Nelson Martínez, who held positions as presidents of PDVSA and oil ministers between 2014 and 2017, and were also arrested and dismissed at the end of that year.
Ramírez, who was president of Pdvsa and oil minister until September 2014, then remained as Venezuela’s representative to the UN in New York, charge of which was removed in December 2017.
Since then he lives somewhere abroad, from which he writes articles for Panorama, Aporrea and Medium in which he constantly lashes out against the Venezuelan government and Nicolás Maduro, and attributes the crisis in Venezuela to that he and his managers were removed from. PDVSA and replaced by less capable people. But he refuses to talk about what happened to his cousin Diego Salazar, who is still detained in Venezuela.
The Venezuelan government points out that many of these corruption schemes had been reported to the Attorney General’s Office, but that the then attorney general, Luisa Ortega Díaz, did not proceed in such cases apparently because she was part of an extortion network, which He collected money from the defendants so as not to proceed against them. Ortega Díaz was dismissed from her position by the National Constituent Assembly in August 2017 [after being in that possition for almost 10 years], after which the new Attorney General, Tarek William Saab, denounced the discovery of these corruption schemes. Ortega Díaz and her husband, Germán Ferrer, who was a member of the PSUV, fled to Colombia. Since then, she travels through several countries claiming to be the legitimate Venezuelan Attorney General, and conducting campaigns against the government.
Meanwhile, other corruption scandals also arise. Alejandro Andrade, who in 2008 was president of Bandes (Bank of Economic and Social Development) and previously had been president of the Sole Social Fund [Fondo Unico Social], pleads guilty in the United States this November of 2018 for participating in bribes for a billion dollars, In which the current owner of the Globovisión channel, Raúl Gorrín, who was accused of several crimes, would also be involved. [His unseal file shows that he was informant for the US government since his time in Bandes according to his own statement]
Cases like those of Ramírez or Andrade (ex-military, who at one time would have been friends with Hugo Chávez, and would have met at the Military Academy) have been used by journalists and opposition politicians to attack Hugo Chávez and imply that he is involved in these corruption plots.
In Chavism we have our particularities. For example, we Venezuelans are excessively religious, a product of more than 500 years of Catholicism imposed and assumed. That religiosity we tend to take also to the political: we tend to idealize Chávez, to treat him almost as a God. We hang his pictures everywhere, often by Jesus Christ and by Nicolás Maduro. We shout his name in political and military slogans, and we distrust anyone who does not shout as hard as we do.
I do not believe in one thing, nor in the other. I believe in Hugo Chávez as an exceptional human being, but as a human being at last. He made successes and mistakes. He had to choose people to form his government. Among these people there were great successes, but there were also mistakes. It is impossible to reproach him for this, because we all commit mistakes.
Imagine if you, at this moment, were appointed President of a country [in this case Venezuela]. Who would you choose to lead the more than 700 public institutions that make up the Venezuelan State, which include ministries, institutes, autonomous services, public banks, state companies, etc.? Would you choose your relatives? your friends? Your ex-companions in class, work or church? those who work with you in any organization? Does being someone your friend give you enough credentials to be part of the government?
The problem is that someone who has been your friend for years, who has appeared to be an honest and capable person, suddenly, upon receiving a position of high power, can transform and become a totally different person. That can not be predicted by anyone, unless you have the mutating powers of Charles Xavier (The X-Men) and you can read the minds of people.
Chávez definitely did not have these superpowers, and had to face dozens of times in his life with the betrayal of people very close to him: from those who turned against him for ideological reasons and had a different concept of what a revolution is, even those who only pursued their own interests, were corrupt and only wanted to use their position in the government to steal.
On the subject of corruption, the powers have no moral to criticize us. Tax havens, such as Andorra or Panama, were not created by Venezuelans. The ways in which large contractors bribe public officials are not inventions of Venezuelans either: you can be a very honest official, but you have to have a TRUCK OF BALLS (or ovaries) to get an envoy from a contractor, say that you will get a deposit of 100 million dollars in an account in an Andorran bank in exchange for you to choose his company in a contract with the government, and you say: “Of course not! Get out of here!”. How many people do you know who are capable of having that level of honesty? Nobody prepares you for it.
With this I am not excusing any corrupt: on the contrary, people like Andrade and Salazar deserve to be in prison for decades, not only for being corrupt, but for having betrayed the Venezuelan people and a historical figure as important as Chavez was. What I do want to say is that not anyone would run from their office to someone who makes a multimillion-dollar bribe like the one presented above.
It is important to say that this type of corruption is very difficult to detect. How can the Comptroller’s Office or the Office of the Prosecutor’s Office detect that a bank president or purchasing agent is depositing money in a bank abroad? The cases that have been detected, such as those of Panama Papers or Andorra, have been cases that became popular thanks to leaks to the press.
Other cases, such as the bribes of Odebrecht to public officials, practically inundated Latin America completely. There is much that remains to be revealed yet on that subject.
There’s a movie, called “Escape in Metro 1 2 3,” starring Denzel Washington and John Travolta and directed by Tony Scott, which deals in part with this theme: an employee of the New York Metro, named Walter Garber (Denzel Washington) must negotiate with a man named Ryder (Travolta), who has kidnapped a Metro train full of passengers and threatens to kill them. At a certain point in the negotiations, Ryder finds out that Garber accepted a bribe of $ 35,000 from a foreign contractor to approve the purchase of new wagons, and uses that information to try to manipulate him. Even in such “first world” environments, it is “normal” for these bribes to occur.
In this regard, there is very little that is heard in Venezuela talking about transparency in public bodies: at a time of the 21st century in which computer science and automation play a vital role in public administration, there are very few public officials They publish all the accounts of their institution in a public and transparent way.
Open Data initiatives can only be seen in the National Information Technology Center (CNTI, dependent on the Ministry of Science and Technology) so that institutions can act with more transparency. But in a country where a plenipotentiary National Constituent Assembly (ANC) operates and there is a great crisis partly caused by the corruption of former officials like Rafael Ramírez, Diego Salazar or Alejandro Andrade, the minimum that one would expect is that the transparency and Open data came directly from the ANC and not from small, almost unknown institutions [like the CNTI].
As can be seen, the situation in Venezuela is very, very complex.
In the midst of all this, we Venezuelans live a very acute crisis at the level of income, at the economic level, at the level of public services (very deteriorated, with constant failures in water, electricity, garbage disposal, domestic gas), with constant news about the emigration of thousands of Venezuelans to other countries, and then find out that many of those Venezuelans want to return.
Crisis and [economic] measures
Returning again to the subject of the measures taken by President Maduro last Thursday, November 29: I believe that the government’s measures, in general, are correct. However, always from my point of view as an inhabitant of the country and person who has to deal with hyperinflation, they are taking very untimely and make people feel that we have been abandoned by the government, fighting against formidable enemies with very little support of the institutions of the State.
I want to continue the contextualization of the topic, now going to the daily life of us as a population:
Monthly cycles: bonuses and salary increases
During 2018, we had to deal with a colossal hyperinflation in Venezuela. So that we could survive it, we learned to live in monthly cycles in which President Maduro made monthly minimum wage increases, and the following month assigned bonuses through the Homeland Card [Carnet de la Patria].
The bonuses are not “gifts for not working”, as Maduro’s detractors affirm, but direct subsidies that the government gives to people as a way to help them acquire goods and services.
These subsidies in the past were given by the government to large companies and producers of goods in order to keep their prices low, but they did not work but generated another evil, called “bachaqueo” [black-market of food].
For example: the government delivered the subsidy of one kilo of precooked corn flour directly to the manufacturer. The manufacturer sold the flour at an extremely cheap price, but those who ended up buying it were informal resellers or “bachaqueros”, who bought it in large quantities at a ridiculous price (sometimes with the cooperation of the manufacturer itself, or with the help of corrupt workers or threatened by themselves). Those “bachaqueros” then resold flour in the streets and sidewalks to ordinary people at scam prices. It was normal that in large markets and outdoor plazas, as in Catia or Petare, scalpers and bachaqueros sold these products at huge prices, in many cases sitting next to police and the Bolivarian National Guard, or the People’s Guard , or the Militias, who did not do anything about it. Something extremely demoralizing.
The government subsidy ended up being used to keep an unproductive social class (a Marxist would call them “lumpen”), which was limited to buying very cheap to resell very expensive.The government decided to end this by giving the subsidy directly to people, using an instrument called “Carnet de la Patria” (today “Homeland System”), which was to function as a kind of “wallet” or electronic wallet through from which people would receive one or more bonuses. The instrument would also serve as a statistical tool to meet the needs of each family, the number of members, their income, number of people with disabilities, pregnant women, seniors, and from there determine the needs of each family and meet their needs .
Parallel [black-market] dollar and markers
The government has also had to deal this year not with one, but with several parallel or illegal dollar markers, which operate from outside the country and use social networks to make their values known.
Although the best known marker was Dolar Today, at the beginning of the year its level of rise was not considered sufficient by the numerous “entrepreneurs” who lived from the continuous rise of the parallel dollar. Thus, several other bookmarks appeared through social networks and web pages, as well as Twitter accounts that were dedicated to taking an “average” between all these markers and set a kind of average value of the parallel dollar.
Social networks and extraterritorial laws
It is necessary to emphasize that the Venezuelan government has not been able to convince US social media companies that they are doing serious damage to our economy, and they are being used by factors external to them to destabilize our country.
I know that this is very difficult to understand. I only ask those who read us to do an exercise of imagination and think what would happen if it were the other way around: if from Venezuelan websites, variables were set that would destabilize the value of the United States Dollar and cause that currency to lose its value, causing serious damage to the economy of that country. Just imagine that they were US workers, white men from New York City or Detroit, and not Venezuelan workers, who were subjected to hyperinflation that destroyed their salaries, and that it was determined that this hyperinflation occurs thanks to Venezuelan websites.
Can you imagine what the news programs would say? Can you imagine Fox News, MSNBC, Bloomberg, CNN?
Can you imagine what would be the reaction of a President like Donald Trump (or his predecessor, Barack Obama) in these circumstances? Can you imagine what the United States Congress would decide?
Would not they immediately order the disconnection of the Venezuelan websites that are behind the destabilization of the dollar? Would not they order their “cyber soldiers” to attack and remove those pages from the Internet? Would not they order the cutting of the optical fibers to Venezuela, and the disconnection of the satellite links? Would the UN or any other multilateral organization protest or quarrel if the United States takes these actions to “protect” itself?
With this, I am not saying that I would agree with Venezuela censoring websites or creating a “Great Wall” in the style of China or North Korea. But at least the issue should be the subject of discussion and debate between the Venezuelan government and social network companies.
On the contrary, the talk of an “economic war” against Venezuela, caused in part by the fixing of artificial variables of the parallel dollar, is often taken as a political rhetoric and an empty discourse of Nicolás Maduro and his allies.
And I do not deny that the Maduro government has made economic mistakes and that his speech and that of his ministers often sounds like tiredness and emptiness, especially after several years of this crisis we are living. They are the same spokesmen, the same phrases, the same speeches. There are elections every few months. One as a Venezuelan is tired of this.
But that does not mean that Maduro is totally wrong. Maduro is right in many of the complaints and observations he makes. When one moves away a little in time and space, when one does the exercise of changing the countries and actors (for example: think what would happen if instead of Venezuela, the country victim of an economic war was the United States), one may realize that Maduro does have some reason. Or quite a lot, depending on how you see it.But let’s continue with our process of contextualization, which I know is long, but a lot has happened this year 2018.
Wages and pizzas
On June 20, 2018, our minimum monthly salary reached the value of Bs. 5,196,000 bolivars.
By August, a critical point was reached, in which Venezuelans already earned so badly, that our salary was absurd and insignificant. It was no longer worth going to work. It was stupid to go and complete a workday. And for those who lived in satellite cities [suburbs] of Caracas, such as Guarenas, La Guaira, Charallave or San Antonio, it was even more absurd to go to work, since they had to spend almost all their salary to pay for commuting.
Our minimum salary was Bs. 5,196,000, but coincidentally that’s what a pizza cost in a shopping mall. The price of the parallel dollar oscillated, depending on the score, between Bs. 4,500,000 and Bs. 6,600,000. A guy who worked in a mall making and selling pizzas, earned in a month of work what a single customer spent buying a single pizza.
And hell, they did sell pizzas! Because in Venezuela a new social class was generated that lived on remittances and dollars sent by relatives from abroad. Or they worked for clients abroad who paid through Paypal or similar. Or they worked for Venezuelan companies, which paid in dollars to certain types of professionals.
A pizza company could easily sell 50 to 60 pizzas a day, but still paid their 7 or 8 employees a minimum wage equivalent to a monthly pizza. If the employees expressed their dissatisfaction, the company simply suggested they leave and a few days later they will have hired someone else to replace them, because unfortunately we have not yet developed a full class consciousness that allows us to solve these problems as proletarians that we are (and I know that is not easy to achieve).
Part of these problems are manifested in an article published in this blog on October 29, 2017, entitled “About pizzas, salaries and inflation in Venezuela.” In that article we explained that the salary of any worker in a Venezuelan pizzeria was so insignificant, and had such a small influence on the cost scheme of the pizzeria, that even if President Nicolás Maduro “went crazy” (we used that same expression ) and decreed a salary increase of 800 percent, “the daily salary of one of these ‘chamos’ [workers] would still be less than the sale price of a single large pizza” and the pizzeria would not have to make a significant increase in its prices to compensate the new salary
All right. We wrote that in October of 2017.
On August 20, 2018, President Maduro “went crazy” (remembering the phrase we used a year ago) and decreed a 3,500 percent salary increase, raising our salaries from 5,196,000 bolivars to 180,000,000 bolivares per month.At the same time, it applied a monetary reconversion (100 thousand bolívares [the old one] became 1 sovereign bolívar), leaving our new salaries in BsS 1,800 (the previous salary of 5,196,000, expressed in the new currency, is now BsS 51.96).
Re-conversion and 100 bills
This reconversion solved a serious problem that Venezuelans had: the lack of cash, which were smuggled to the Colombian-Venezuelan border to be used by the mafias of contraband gasoline, drugs and food. These measures of Maduro taken in August 2018 finally ended with the crisis of cash, which dated from 2016, when the famous crisis with the 100 bill occurred.
*On August 20, Maduro also announced a new system of “agreed prices”, according to which the government would sit down with the country’s leading entrepreneurs (in particular those who, because of their production capacity, are the ones with the capacity to ” to mark the prices “) and, after analyzing the costs, they would fix the prices of the main food products, of hygiene and cleaning, and of medicines.
*Along with these measures, Maduro announced others that were intended to prevent employers from arguing that the sharp wage increase would cause a hyperinflationary wave. The most important: Maduro announced that the government would assume, for 3 months, the payroll of private companies, thus preventing the entrepreneur from raising the prices of the products arguing that he had to pay salary increases.
*Maduro also announced that Petro, a virtual cryptocurrency, would become a unit of account dependent on the value of the barrel of oil and it was suggested that, through Petro, the wage would fluctuate with inflation. It is necessary to clarify, however, that Maduro himself warned that the values would be in constant adjustment, and that the crisis would not be resolved in at least two years, when the problems and distortions in the economic variables that Venezuelans live in are corrected.
Reconversion versus hyperinflation
It must be said that the first weeks after the salary increase were a dream for the vast majority of the country’s employees. For several weeks we were able to buy products that we had for months without buying: meat, chicken, hams, cheeses, toilet paper, sanitary napkins, diapers. People looked with a smile on their face that they had not had for months.
Although we were all happy with the agreed prices, some illogical things were immediately seen: the mortadella [kind of Italian sausage] was more expensive than the beef of the first category, and the “agreed price” of the detergent to wash clothes, was disrespected from the very same first day by the Polar Companies of Lorenzo Mendoza, manufacturers of the famous Las Llaves soap, without any sanction against them.
Weeks passed and the ghost of hyperinflation returned to the stained glass windows. The “agreed prices” began to increase dramatically in some areas. Beef and chicken quickly disappeared, or were transmuted to other presentations to evade “agreed prices” (for example, the whole chicken disappeared and instead sold chopped chicken, thigh or breasts). Prices rose and rose, and complaints to regulatory bodies (the Sundde: National Superintendence for the Defense of Socioeconomic Rights, among others) had no effect.
Items such as hard white cheese, carton of 30 eggs or ground coffee in their various presentations rose in price practically every week, sometimes doubling the price.
Some officials suggested that the people should “be on the street”, “defending” the agreed prices.
The complaints on Twitter and social networks about prices never had any response from government officials, who limit themselves to using social networks as a one-way mechanism to position hashtags every day.
Rarely was there a response from public officials to the complaints of the people (although there are some public officials who would be better off banning them from using Twitter).The month of September people endured more or less well with their salary increase of Bs 1,800. The second month (October), with the increases in the prices of all the products, already the thing began to get difficult.
In November, things got much worse: For example, beef, whose agreed price was Bs. 90 per kilo, already cost more than Bs. 1,100, and we were living a situation similar to that of August: work a full month of salary to be able to buy 2 or 3 items.
The government began to pay utilities to public employees (Christmas bonus, which is equivalent to 4 months of salary), and paid the first 3 months of profits by parts: first a month of profits, then two months more. This helped alleviate the situation a bit.
Government and lack of authority
But what we all asked ourselves was: why the government did not assert its authority to maintain the agreed prices in a stable way? Why did not he go out on the street, why did he not supervise the wholesalers, the manufacturers, the producers, the importers? Why many stores, supermarkets and chains remarked the prices of the products in front of us the customers, without which we could do anything about it? One saw shoe stores, chains like Unicasa, Plaza’s, Central Madeirense or Excelsior Gama often breaking the law in front of people, and nobody did anything.
For example: it is mandatory by law for manufacturers to place the Retail Price (PVP) pre-printed on the packaging in their products. This seeks to hinder the re-pricing of prices, which many local and supermarket chains usually do when changing prices in the cash registers’ databases; People do not know how much they are going to pay for the product until they take it to the cashier and it tells them how much it is worth.
But, for some reason that I do not understand, between October and November many products stopped bringing the pre-printed price in the package: sandwich breads, disinfectants, hygiene items and cleaning products, cereals, among many others. They did not tell me, I confirmed it myself.
The manufacturers took these attributions, nobody knows why. This caused that some products that before had the same price regardless of which chain you buy it, suddenly started to have a price in one place, another price in another, and suddenly they began to highlight the prices from the cash registers: one day You were going to buy the product at a price, but two days later that same product, from that same stock, had a higher price.
This made it very difficult for one to put a claim. It facilitated the destruction of our salary by employers, who could now use any excuse to increase prices.
Defend prices on the streets
All this greatly demoralized the people, who in the middle of this hyperinflationary wave felt unprotected. People wanted to see at least their public officials, the mayors, governors, constituents (for whom we voted, even risking our lives) and candidates for councilors fighting alongside one, going to businesses and stores, to wholesalers, to importers, complaining to the distributors and traders about the prices that were constantly rising.
Another problem was that people who were accustomed to having every month some protection scheme (either wage increases or bonds of the Patria de la Patria) suddenly we were unprotected for 3 months. And this was very hard for many.
Presidential announcements and the present
Finally, with a lot of expectation, on November 29, 2018 President Maduro announced a salary increase of 150 percent, raising the minimum salary from Bs. 1,800 to Bs. 4,500, as well as taking other measures that we summarize here.Likewise, the following day (November 30) the vice president of Economy, Tareck El Aissami, announced an unprecedented measure: the temporary occupation, for 180 days, of 21 slaughterhouses of beef due to the breach of agreed prices. In addition, the Public Ministry will be asked to open investigations to the owners of the slaughterhouses.
This measure is unprecedented and worthy of applause. The only thing that can be criticized is the lateness of it: it must have been taken in September or October, just after noticing the breach of prices. Wait until almost December to take this measure is absurd. In addition, it is a measure that should also be taken practically in other areas of the economy.
Anyway, I think the measure should be welcome. Only time will tell if it is effective and if it is achieved that the meat reappears constantly at the tables of the Venezuelans.
Many have told me that they would prefer not to have wage increases, since they are used by employers as an excuse to increase prices and generate inflation. They would prefer a government that puts employers at bay and avoids the unnecessary price increases that cause hyperinflation.
*For now, we can only just wait. There is a lot of uncertainty, we do not know if we will continue in monthly cycles in which there will be wage increases or bonuses will be given, or if we will have to wait 3 months or more for new adjustments to occur. It is an uncertainty in which it is quite difficult to live.
*But what I hope has been clear to those who have come this far, is that the situation in Venezuela is not easy to describe. Nor can we blame Nicolás Maduro and his government, as most of the media claim, nor can we say that everything is the fault of US imperialism, which does exist and is very willing to take over the resources of Venezuela , as it has already done with many other countries. There is a national business private sector that is largely to blame for the problems, but which usually hides and does not show up. There is a government that should put them at the waist, but it does not do it with the forcefulness that it should. There is a fight against corruption and inefficiency, which advances very slowly for what we all want. There is an oil industry that must recover, and a complete country that must develop industries other than oil. Many are the factors at play.
At some point there will have to be a cold analysis, as historians usually do: at a distance both physically and in time (that is, several years later), to see how effective all these measures were. However, I think that doing this type of analysis from time to time is necessary to know where we are and where we are going.
The last observation I want to make is about the Petro issue. But I’ll leave that for another article.
Translated by JRE